As the population matures, Singapore relies on Healthier SG to maintain reliable, affordable, and accessible healthcare.

– SINGAPORE As Singapore attempts to manage a healthcare system burdened by a rapidly ageing population, the Healthier SG initiative, which encourages healthier living, is the country’s best option for maintaining affordable, high-quality, and accessible healthcare.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung made this statement on Tuesday at the Voco Orchard hotel during the 15th Singapore Economic Policy Forum.

The Economic Society of Singapore, in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University, coordinated the 2023 occasion.

Mr. Ong stated that the $400 million annual funding for the preventive care programme Healthier SG might not be sufficient to elevate the country to Blue Zone 3.0 status, which is characterised by a narrowing of the disparity between lifespan and health span.

Following the inclusion of Singapore in the roster of “Blue Zones”—termed geographic areas renowned for their exceptionally high life expectancy—he recently introduced the term in question.

“Alternative approaches are being considered, including the differentiation of insurance premiums for individuals who lead suitable lifestyles versus those who do not. Mr. Ong stated, “Regulatory measures to reduce sodium consumption are under consideration.”

In order to combat loneliness, Singapore is also investing in another national programme known as Age Well SG, which encourages seniors to cultivate social networks and lead active lives in the community.

We aim to prevent or postpone the placement of as many senior citizens in institutions as feasible. “As they reside in a nursing home, their health declines,” he stated.

Mr. Ong stated that the Ministry of Health (MOH) desires a greater allocation of economists’ time to health economics, regardless of whether the focus is on resolving disputes between payers, providers, and patients, health economics supply and demand allocation, or the application of behavioural economics to encourage individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles.

He stated that the MOH is considering establishing a health economics office for this purpose.

Mr. Ong stated, in discussing the fundamental economic principles of healthcare, that relying on various funding sources—including government subsidies, insurance, and even philanthropy—is one of the most important.

Additionally, avoid becoming an adversary of medical technology. He added that technological advancements such as digital healthcare make it easier and more affordable for individuals to practise preventive and holistic care.

Additionally, there are extremely expensive novel drugs and treatments that may be of some benefit to patients with particular diseases.

Mr. Ong stated that there is a substantial opportunity cost associated with subsidising these remedies, as the funds could be invested in parks, education, public transportation, or defence.

Mr. Ong stated that despite this, the country annually spends less than 5% of its gross domestic product on healthcare, which is less than half of the average expenditure of other developed nations.

He added, nonetheless, that the healthcare system must adjust to the new realities.

The manner in which society as a whole assumes the financial burden of healthcare expenses has an effect on the overall functioning of the healthcare system.

Mr. Ong illustrated in his speech how healthcare is predominantly funded in the United States and the United Kingdom with two examples.

A single-payer system was adopted by the United Kingdom, in which tax revenues are used to fund healthcare and patients are not required to pay at the point of service.

Socially, this is extremely fair and just, but there are substantial drawbacks, according to Mr. Ong.

He stated that the system is under considerable strain, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seven million patients in the United Kingdom are awaiting treatment, and the strain is being felt by healthcare professionals.

Healthcare expenditures by the British government are on the rise and must contend with other urgent demands on public funds.

However, private insurance is a significant component of healthcare financing in the United States.

Self-financing insurance through premiums contributes to its greater sustainability. Compared to other public expenditures, such as those on education and defence, there is reduced competition.

Nonetheless, there are wealthy individuals who can afford a great deal and those who are impoverished.

Consequently, healthcare services may be denied to those who cannot afford insurance premiums, whereas the affluent are provided with five-star service.

Mr. Ong stated, “Regardless of their starting point, the majority of nations ended up with a mixed funding system.”

Although the principle of free healthcare remains steadfast in the minds of British governments, private insurance does exist for those who can afford it. This enables them to bypass hospital queues and receive timely medical attention at a private facility.

The Obama administration advocated for the Affordable Care Act in the United States. The government now covers approximately half of the nation’s healthcare expenditures, reducing its reliance on insurance.

Mr. Ong stated that Singapore has always considered the advantages and disadvantages of insurance and subsidies when it comes to socialising healthcare costs, and has chosen to use both to fund healthcare.

The S+2M (subsidies, MediSave, and MediShield Life) framework was further expanded to include a third element of personal responsibility and co-payment via mandatory savings.

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